Black bean soups have been a staple in veggie product lines and eateries for decades. Anyone who bought the freeze-dried stuff or tried the canned varieties in the eighties, nineties, and beyond is likely to shy away from it now. The powdery and canned soups were often sludgy, bitter, and visually unappealing. For me, tasting shelf-stable cuppa was a let down. My first exposure to black bean soup was at a Cuban restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee. They offered two versions. One was almost like a chili with chunks of meat, beans, peppers, onions, celery, a rich broth, and lots of ground cumin. The other was a bright, tomato-based soup with veggies, some cumin, and a stronger nose for cilantro. Of course we'll be making the latter version.
Let me hit the pause button before I go any further. Cilantro is one of those herbs that seems to incite strong debates about whether it's a divine gift of deliciousness or the soapy weed of the devil. If you hate cilantro, just skip it. You can add a tablespoon of lime or lemon juice and get the same bright effect. Just breathe and try to ignore it when the bad lady brings up the evil leafy plant from Hell.
So here's how to make a pot of the good stuff. It tastes great, the prep is easy, and you can leave it to simmer all day.
2 C of cooked black beans
1 small can of tomato paste
1/2 cup carrots cut into medallions
1/2 cup diced white potato
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 small to medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 Tbs of sliced jalepeno pepper
1Tbs vegetarian beefless broth powder
1/2 cup sweet pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
a dash of turmeric
a dash of chili powder
a dash of red pepper flakes
When serving, top each bowl with:
chopped cilantro to taste (Optional. Really, you don't have to add this. It will be just fine.)
lemon or lime juice to taste
Combine all of the ingredients except the (optional OPTIONAL!) cilantro and citrus juice in a large saucepan with two cups of water and cook over low heat for at least an hour. It can be eaten right away, but it's better when it's simmered for a long time and improves if left for the next day. Best served with tortillas, salsa cruda, and/or fresh guacamole.
copyright 2016 Jas Faulkner/ Zen Dixie